Like anyone else watching Dispatches on Channel 4 tonight, I was absolutely shocked at the ease in which anyone can get hold of my personal and private information. Information such as National Insurance Number, bank account details, itemised phone bills, medical history; details which I would struggle to get access to myself.
I won’t rehash what was covered in the show, as it makes quite shocking viewing, and I wouldn’t do it justice. You should watch it for yourself. What I will offer is a solution.
It’s simple really, and should only cost a few pennies to implement:
Send me an e-mail alert whenever my personal data is accessed on a private database. Simple.
An example: I’m on the phone to the bank. As they pull up my info, my phone will ping to let me know my data’s been accessed. If however I’m sat in Starbucks sipping coffee and my phone goes off, I can instantly see who has requested which info, and make my own mind up if I need to look into it.
Here’s some pseudo code for it:
if data requested -> send e-mail alert with date & time of access, recipient of data & details of the data requested
This wouldn’t need to change any current workflow or database access rights, and would simply ping away in the background whenever personal details are requested. I’m sure there would be loads of new job vacancies created, when those getting backhanders for handing out our private data are kicked out or jailed for misconduct.
We could even go one step further, where requests for information would be held back until you give it the all clear, but I can see how that could be more troublesome to legitimate users.
As long as there are databases full of our personal information, there will be people trying to access that information for profit. If we bring that out into the open, then nobody can lose. The data is still accessible when required, but nobody can access it without being tracked and accountable.